On the bus from Krakow to Berlin, I was excited but also a little nervous and not quite sure what to expect in the final part of our journey. As a German major, I have spent the last seven years learning the German language, history and culture, but this would be my first time actually setting foot in the country and interacting with native speakers. However, I was not only ready to test out my language skills, I was curious to see how the Germans would present information on the Second World War in their various museums, given all of the atrocities the Nazi regime committed. While I didn’t get to use my German speaking skills nearly as much as I had hoped, I did learn a great deal over the course of our stay. Berlin is a unique place, and I believe it was the perfect destination to end our trip given its complicated postwar history that is clearly seen throughout the city.
The victors are typically the ones who get to write our History, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way in which the Germans presented us with the hard facts, no sugar coating or omitting of information to show themselves in a more positive light as we saw in France and Poland. The German Historical Museum was a great example of this non-biased factual presentation, but I believe the Topography of Terror Museum that we visited gave the most in-depth information about the war, far more than we have studied in any of my German or History classes at Ohio State. Here was a country that was prepared to take the blame and own up to their crimes, creating a narrative from their grievous mistakes that future generations can learn from.